Trip Diary: New Orleans, Part 1

Handsome and I recently took a vacation to New Orleans, and had a great time. The weather was beautiful (high 70s or low 80s, sunny and very comfortable), things weren’t to crowded, and places had already started to decorate for Halloween, which was fun to see. In this post I’ll talk a little bit about where we stayed and what we did. I’ll round up the food and drink in another post.

Frenchman Art Market
Frenchman Street Art Market

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Hiking the Billy Goat Trail

Handsome and I spent one recent Saturday morning hiking Section A of the Billy Goat Trail (PDF) in the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park.

The hike itself is pretty strenuous and not for the faint of heart – there’s a lot of climbing and jumping on large rocks, and some beautiful views from the top of the Potomac Gorge. This 40-foot cliff climb is known as The Scramble:

Billy Goat Trail

It’s not quite as steep as this photo makes it look, but it’s challenging. There wasn’t anyone behind us when we hit it, which was good because I got stuck at one point where my legs weren’t quite long enough to get up over one portion. In the end I wound up sort of levering myself up on my shin, which I was pretty sure would result in a nice bruise, but did not. This portion and a few other things were a little nerve-wracking, so I did a lot of crouching and the like to get my center of gravity lower and better be able to get a hand on things. That said, A++ Will Hike Again. (However you will not catch me running this trail, which appeared to be a pretty popular activity.)


I, of course, dragged my camera along, which was perhaps not ideal but worked out just fine. More photos here.

There are a ton of other trails in that area for us to explore – Great Falls Park in Virginia, the Potomac Heritage Trail, and then there’s plenty more along the C&O Canal, including some additional portions of the Billy Goat Trail – and lots of bike trails in the area too.



Trip Diary: Ocean City, MD

I’ve been to Ocean City, MD several times for a conference that takes place in the off season, but I recently went for a friend’s bachelorette party. We went up on Friday and came back on Sunday (driving “up and around” so as to avoid the Bay Bridge – definitely helped on Friday, but it didn’t save much, if any, time on Sunday.) While there, we hung out at the beach, went to a few places that were new to me, and to my favorite spot.

Darra's Bachelorette Weekend

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Trip Diary: Las Vegas

Why the American Library Association saw fit to drag 13,000 librarians to Las Vegas in June is beyond me, but that’s where we were for this year’s conference. It had been 30 years since the last time ALA rotated through Vegas, and I heard many people say they hoped it was at least 30 more.

Conferences are draining enough, and being in Vegas made this easily 3x worse. The heat and dryness kept everyone dehydrated (I saw a fellow conference-goer collapse inside the convention center on day one). This conference is large enough that it’s normally spread out across several hotels, and that was the case with Vegas. I don’t think getting to the hotels took that much more time than it usually would, the problem was mostly with finding the room you were looking for once you made it inside these hotels, which all have casinos and are all designed to keep you on the casino floor. Signage is either incomplete, cleverly blended into the surroundings, or just plan nonexistent. I got lost in Caesars Palace, where I stayed, three or four times in the first day and a half I was there.  Continue reading

Trip Diary: Chicago Redux

I was back in Chicago recently to attend the Medical Library Association conference and make a site visit to Northwestern’s campus in Evanston. This trip was a bit longer than my usual work trips, and I was on my own for much of it. As I speculated last summer, this conference was not at the convention center, but at a giant Hyatt much closer to interesting restaurants and stuff to do. I’ll be back again in January for another conference, presumably back at the convention center.

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National Cherry Blossom Festival

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Along with most of the rest of the region, I went over to the Tidal Basin to enjoy the last weekend of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, including the very peak of peak blooms. From looking out my windows today, you would never know that it was beautifully sunny and warm all weekend. Oh well. Click through for plenty more.